Minister Harris announces changes to the Student Grant Scheme for 2021
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD has today (Thursday) announced the opening of the Student Grant Scheme for renewal applications for the 2021/22 academic year, and highlighted a number of improvements for some of the most disadvantaged students.
Important changes are being made to the scheme this year including:
- an increase in the postgraduate fee grant and an increase in the income threshold
- a number of Department of Social Protection and other payments are to be included as income disregards in the student grant scheme
- students who received an improved offer as a result of sitting the Leaving Cert this year will not lose their entitlement to their SUSI grant
- the social welfare payment for 65-year-olds will be included as a qualifying payment for the special rate of maintenance grant
In announcing the opening of the Student Grant Scheme, Minister Harris said:
“SUSI is now open for renewal applications for the 2021/22 academic year. New grant applicants will be able to apply on April 22nd. The early opening date for renewal students will facilitate earlier decisions for students on their grant applications and provide students with greater certainty about the financial support that will be available to them. I would encourage students who think they might be eligible for support to submit their online applications to SUSI and use the ready reckoner on their website.”
The priority closing dates for the 2021/22 student grant scheme are 8 July 2021 for new applicants and 10 June 2021 for renewal students.
“COVID-19 has created challenges for the economy and households which is likely to result in a significant increase in the number of applications to the SUSI scheme in 2021. We have secured additional funding and will continue to engage with government colleagues on these matters.”
Renewal applicants have been contacted by SUSI directly and can submit their renewal applications on 31 March. All new applicants will be able to apply to SUSI on 22 April.
“We are conducting an independent review of the student grant scheme, which is underway, with more than a hundred submissions received. Public consultation is open until 16 April. We really want to hear from you about how we can make the scheme better so I would really encourage people to email email@example.com and have your voice heard.”
The SUSI eligibility reckoner can be accessed at:
The main changes to the 2021 Student Grant Scheme are as follows:
Threshold and Fee Grant Increase for Postgraduate Students
At present, postgraduate students from low-income households who meet the qualifying criteria for the special rate of grant under the Student Grant Scheme 2020 may be eligible to have their tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of €6,270 as well as receiving the special rate of maintenance grant of up to €5,915. All other postgraduate students undertaking approved courses may apply for a Postgraduate Fee Contribution in the amount of €2,000 towards tuition fees. The income threshold for this payment was €31,500 for the 2020/21 academic year, increasing relative to the number of family dependents. For 2021/22 the income threshold will be expanded from €31,500 to €54,250 and the fee grant contribution will increase from €2,000 to €3,500.
Fuel Allowance and Living Alone Allowance
A Fuel Allowance is a DSP payment under the National Fuel Scheme to help with the cost of heating a person’s home during the winter months. It is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs. The Living Alone Increase is an extra payment for people who are on long-term social welfare payments who are living alone.
Both of these payments are targeted at long-term social welfare recipients and are now listed as income disregards in the student grant scheme for 2021/22.
Dormant Account Funding for Traveller Participation in HE
The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science secured ring-fenced funding of €300,000 for targeted supports to address the implications of COVID-19 for Irish Traveller transfer to and progression within Higher Education. The funding which has been secured through the Dormant Accounts Funds for 2021 and is now listed as an income disregard for 2021/22.
Pandemic Placement Grant for Student Nurses and Midwives
The HSE recently announced that student nurses are set to receive a new Pandemic Placement Grant while on hospital placements in recognition of the hardship and infection risk experienced by student nurses and midwives during the pandemic. The payment is now listed as an income disregard for 2021/22.
COVID-19 Once-off Emergency Grant
In recognition of the challenges facing full time third level students the government approved once-off funding of €50m to provide additional financial assistance in the 2020/21 academic year. The funding, which was provided in Budget 2021, in recognition of the significant upheaval they have experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offered financial assistance to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students attending publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and all SUSI grant holders. The inclusion of this COVID-19 Once-off Emergency Grant as an income disregard will ensure that students who received the €250 payment from SUSI in 2020/21 will not have this payment included in the calculation of reckonable income for 2021/22.
Benefit Payment for 65 Year Olds
A new Benefit Payment for 65 Year Olds was introduced by DSP in February 2021. This is a payment for people aged 65 who have ceased employment or self-employment and who satisfy the pay-related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions. The payment is a flat rate of payment of €203 per week (the same rate as the Jobseeker’s Benefit) with an increase for dependants, if eligible and a person in receipt of this payment will not be required to sign on the Live Register. This payment is included as an eligible payment for the special rate of grant.
Irish Research Council – Postgraduate Stipend Increase
In January 2021, it was announced that the value of the Irish Research Council’s postgraduate stipend will increase from €16,000 to €18,500 per annum. The student grant scheme allows stipend holders to also benefit from the student grant. The value of the stipend amount provided for in the student grant scheme has increased to €18,500 in order to align it with the increase.
Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020
Following the decision to move to a calculated grades process for the 2020 Leaving Certificate, the government gave the following commitment:
“Students who opt to sit the Leaving Certificate examinations later in the year and who receive an improved CAO offer on foot of these results will also receive a deferred college offer to start their course in the 2021/22 academic year. If a candidate who has started first year of a course becomes entitled to a higher CAO offer and chooses to accept same in the following academic year, attendance for the first year on the new course would remain eligible for free fees and SUSI funding as appropriate.”
Provision has been provided in the 2021/22 scheme for those students affected.